With Sunday's major matchup between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Purdue Boilermakers in Iowa, it seemed like a good time to bring BTPowerhouse's writers together and get their thoughts heading into the game. It's certainly a huge game for both sides and could shape the Big Ten title chances for each.
Check out the discussion below.
1. What Are Your General Thoughts On This Matchup and What Does It Mean Going Forward?
Thomas Beindit: A lot of the storylines that make this one so intriguing come from the first matchup. In that one, Purdue got up huge, let off the gas, and Iowa came storming back for the win. It was a surprising result for a multitude of reasons and fans will finally get a look at how legitimate it was on Sunday. On top of that, both teams are near or at the top of the Big Ten standings and it's a key game in the title race, especially for Purdue to get back in the race.
Marco Knudsen: In a revenge match, Purdue will be looking to avenge their second half collapse against Iowa on January 2nd. Purdue will need to figure out how to power through Iowa's pressure defense -- Kendall Stephens was the leading scorer the first game with 12. Generally sound on the defensive end, the Boilermakers will need to protect the perimeter, as the Hawkeyes shot 45% from behind the arc against Michigan. Purdue SHOULD have the upper-hand in the paint, but will need crisp ball movement to get the Hawkeye defense off balance.
Jerome Scherwin Jr.: Is there a better home court team in the Big Ten (or maybe the country) right now? They are 9-0 this season (winners of 12 straight dating back to last year) at Carver Hawkeye Arena with an average margin of victory of 18.3 points. Fran McCaffery continues to push the right buttons when it comes to lineups and the offensive and defensive sets (Remember the pressure defense that sparked the comeback at Mackey,? I know AR Holmes does!). The Hawkeyes come at you from so many angles. If you focus too much on Jarrod Uthoff's ability to fill it up from anywhere on the court, Mike Gesell, Peter Jok and Dom Uhl have torched their opponents. I think Iowa is rolling right now and if Adam Woodbury can continue to hold his own down low (he's been so underrated this season) with whatever big man he's matched up against, Iowa should be able to keep their run alive.
Andrew Holmes: Purdue will be looking to avenge their earlier loss at Mackey, and more importantly, reestablish themselves as a contender for the conference championship. For the Hawkeyes, a second sweep of a highly-regarded Big Ten opponent will keep them at the top of the standings and cement their place as a Top-5 team in the country. After a puzzling tale of two halves in the first game (yes, Jerome I remember the Iowa defense well), I think this one is a battle from start to finish. Don't be surprised if their is a technical or two by the end of it, maybe one per coach.
Wola Odeniran: Purdue feels like they let one slip away at home against Iowa earlier this season after leading by double digits in the first half. Little did we know from that game that Iowa would turn out to be a top ten team in the country. For Purdue, this is a game they have to have if they want to stay in the race for the Big Ten regular season title. It would also be their best win to date.
For Iowa, they are clearly in the driver's seat. Tied at 6-0 for first place with the Indiana Hoosiers, the Hawkeyes have a loss to give. But at the same time, they still have four games against ranked opponents left to play on their schedule. A win here for the Hawkeyes puts pressure on everyone else in the Big Ten.
2. What's The Matchup To Watch When Iowa and Purdue Tip-Off?
Thomas Beindit: Normally, anytime Purdue plays someone, the battle to watch is upfront. However, given how things went last time, I have to go with the backcourt matchups here. That's because in the first game, Iowa's resurgence primarily came once they started pressing and Purdue started turning it over. How players like Rapheal Davis and PJ Thompson handle those situations will be telling.
Marco Knudsen: I'm looking to see if the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Rapheal Davis will come out motivated to stop conference player of the year candidate Jarrod Uthoff. The do-it-all senior torched the Boilermakers for 25 points and will need to be contained if the Boilermakers hope to prevent a sweep.
Jerome Scherwin Jr.: I'll be interested to see if Purdue can get anything out of their guard play this time around. Rapheal Davis and P.J. Thompson were brutal in the first go round and Mike Gesell, Anthony Clemmons, Peter Jok, Nicholas Baer and Jarrod Uthoff are a lot to handle defensively on their own while also being expected to score. Will Matt Painter's wing players have enough in the tank to help keep Iowa's defense from suffocating the Boilermakers big men?
Andrew Holmes: Rapheal Davis is an incredible player, but he has been a little off since the injury and I don't know how effective he'll be against Uthoff. For me the matchup will be A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas versus Dom Uhl and anyone else who comes in for Adam Woodbury. Hammons always seems to play better against other true centers, and Dom Uhl stretching him out on defense was part of what sparked the offensive end of the Hawkeye comeback in the first game. Hammons and Haas will need to punish Iowa's defense when they go small and play smart on the other end.
Wola Odeniran: Similar to Andrew, A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas for Purdue going up against Adam Woodbury and Jarrod Uthoff is what I'm looking for. For Purdue it will be critical for Hammons and Haas to not only control the paint, but also be able to hold their own along the perimeter if need be. Iowa does a good job of spreading opposing defenses out, so spacing will be important for Purdue on the road.
3. Who Wins On Sunday Afternoon?
Thomas Beindit: This is a tough one for me. On paper, I think Purdue is the pick. However, putting the Boilermakers on the road against a tough Iowa team isn't going to be easy. Honestly, I don't really feel great about picking either one in this side. It just seems like a game that could catch either by surprise. Nonetheless, I'm going to pick Purdue. I think they avoid the turnovers from the last game and come out on top.
Marco Knudsen: The hot shooting continues for Iowa as they win 82-74.
Jerome Scherwin Jr.: As they say, revenge is a dish best served cold, but I don't think OMHR will have enough to end this amazing Hawkeyes run. Uthoff and Jok are borderline pyromaniacs at this point and on the defensive end, McCaffery has this team playing with an unmatched confidence. Iowa by 8.
Wola Odeniran: I like Iowa. The Hawkeyes are at home and while Purdue is obviously still one of the better teams in the country, there's just too much momentum going for the Hawkeyes right now.
Andrew Holmes: Hammer and Rails probably wouldn't let me contribute anymore if I chose Iowa, but I honestly like Purdue's chances in this game. The Boilers always seem a bit more comfortable as an underdog, and I won't be at the game to jinx them. Purdue by 5.
(Note: All predictions were done before the Kendall Stephens injury was announced).